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April 2017 Retro Gaming Article


April 20, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Even with the resurgence of vinyl records, the B-side concept is mysterious to newer generations

vinyl B-sides
I discovered some of my favorite songs on the B-side of 45 records and I played them through an amp connected to real speakers!
Everything from hand-crank car windows to telephones that actually "hang up" mystify newer generations. Just when you think the revolving nature of fads will return things you once loved to the forefront, they don't. I'm stunned at the number of records I'll see in mainstream stores.

We have a few used record stores in the area, but I'm talking about stores that carry brand new releases on vinyl. Seeing the latest Metallica album on vinyl sitting next to Taylor Swift's 1989 is pretty amazing in 2017! Demand is so high that defunct vinyl presses are being updated to accomodate demand. Never saw that coming.

I love to flip through bins of LPs in the stores and relive a bit of my youth. I've always loved music and often upgraded my stereo equipment over the years. The state of music these days seems to no longer involve two speakers.

Technics turntable In fact, gone are the stores that sold things like amps, receivers, turntables, and speakers. In their place are department stores with end-caps full of $70 bluetooth speakers. You'd almost think the concept of stereo has vanished with the onslaught of single speaker offerings.

Not long ago, I asked a Best Buy employee about the best speaker solution. He asked me what type of phone I had. Has music been reduced to this? Has analog all but disappeared? What seems to qualify as a speaker these days will make a racket, but that's not really what sound was about.

I remember buying spools of speaker cables at Radio Shack. When stereo amps had surround options, I set up a 5-speaker system for watching movies along with my stash of CDs. I kept having to buy DVD players in order to play my CDs on real speakers. Then I had to buy a Blu Ray player for the same purpose. Now it's all blue tooth from phones to some sort of noisy pod. WTF?

No doubt I sound like some old guy who just crept out from under a rock, but sound was formerly an artform not a commodity purchase. Sound had warmth, like the soothing sound of an old LP on a turntable. Now it's crisp and sterile sounding and pours from these tiny speakers forcing way too much treble from a small hole.

As technology has forced me to upgrade, I am indeed a fan od CDs, but I can still play an LP. However, going forward I feel we are all losing analog sound in favor of technologies that don't deliver the same (or better) quality. Sure, it's nifty to pack hundreds of songs on a smartphone, but our addiction to headphones - most of which are tiny buds shoved into our ear canals - can't be healthy, nor is it the way sound is meant to be enjoyed. Pure digital solutions from phones to a bluetooth speaker lacks both feeling and warmth. I suppose I'll have to succumb to this new standard, but I expect some additional kicking and screaming.

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